Gear Review

The Journey and the Jersey


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I have to admit something. I have never even been on a cycling team before. I was searching for a team that I could feel proud of. I wanted to be on a team with like-minded, kick-ass individuals who were passionate about cycling the same way that I was. I wanted a team that was about more than performance. So, when I realized that there weren’t enough teams that fit this profile, I decided that we would just have to make one!

A team that I could count on when storming the castle!
You have to find the right team that will help you storm the castle when you can’t even stand up.

The thing about creating a team when you have never been on one before is that it can take time to figure things out. However, one thing that I knew from the start is that we needed jerseys. We needed cute and cozy jerseys that we would be stoked to wear. So, we started the search. For a small team in the sunrise of their career, it can be a daunting task. We struggled to find options that wouldn’t break the bank and would be able to support a small order size. We also struggled with the diversity of our team; as not everyone would want a tight fitted cross country style jersey.

That is when it was time to step out of the box a bit. Why not find a company that would fit our values AND our style needs and print them ourselves? Enter  Ashley Rankin, founder of Shredly. From the beginning, Ashley was super supportive and helpful. She dealt with my questions about screen printing, order logistics, timelines AND she was still happy to support our fledgling team.

So many colorful options!
So many colorful options!

We knew that supporting a US clothing company that designs gear for and by a lady shredder was a no brainer, but we had never had the Shredly experience. There are not enough stores that carry Shredly. I hope that will change in the future, but for now, perhaps our experiences can help inform your decision to go Shredly.

Once we got the gear in our grubby little hands, we knew it would be magic. It was REALLY hard not to wear the jersey before getting it printed! A quick try on gave me my first impression. All I could think was: Stupid Sexy Flanders! I was dancing around the house repeating: “It’s like wearing nothing at all!” Seriously cozy.

I couldn’t resist getting a pair of the Louise MTB shorts and yogachams to go with the jersey.  Neither of these disappoint. The chamois sit a little shorter then I expected. At first a felt a little startled, but in performance, it allows it to sit better when worn with knee pads. The chamois itself was has been super comfortable on every ride. The shorts, besides have a great print, are made with a light weight fabric that I will continue to praise as the summer continues.

Shredding in comfort
Shredding in comfort

The jersey printed like a dream. As Ashley promised, it took the print really well. Even our Honeybones designed Branson looks great on the back of the big jersey pockets. Beyond the print, the lightweight jersey is completely breathable, fits well and provides the perfect amount of coverage. As demonstrated by that stupid sexy Flanders, I frequently forget about it when I am on the bike. This is a wonderful thing. The last thing that you should be thinking about when you are shredding is your jersey. Although highly discouraged, it performs well during shoulder reductions as well.

Can't miss these jerseys on the race field!
These colors don’t hide.

The added bonus is that the jerseys are super easy to spot! It is easy to spot your teammates out on the field!

Still need convincing? Here’s what other No Apologies! have to say:

Stephanie Says: “I love supporting a homegrown company, especially a women’s specific company that shreds.  I mostly like that Shredly has well thought out clothing for the task.  It seems that Shredly has hit the nail on the head.  I have to say the jerseys are very comfortable and flattering, and provide enough coverage on the backside.  The only thing I would request would be deeper pockets with more security.  I also added the Yogacham and a pair of the Kortney MTB Long shorts.  I do agree with Rheannon that the yogasham is a little on the short side, but they keep my butt happy with well thought out padding.  I enjoy that overshorts are a lightweight material, and have adjustable velcro tabs on the sides.  These are not only great for shredding, but I’ve also used them for commuting.  They are the perfect length to keep your knees comfortably warm on chilly mornings and you can pop the zipper vents open on the front if things start to heat up. The side leg pocket is also great because you can put stuff in without it feeling baggy and flopping around.  All in all I am impressed with Shredly threads, I like that you can get down and dirty and look great doing it.  I look forward to adding more Shredly to the bike clothes corral.  Thank you Ashley for creating Shredly!”

Michelle Says: “I love my Shredly jersey – it’s long enough that it doesn’t ride up on my belly, and it’s a true-to-size fit; if you’re a medium, buy a medium. If you’re a large, buy a large! There’s nothing more irritating than purchasing what you think is your size and end up either flapping in the wind or feeling like a stuffed sausage. The fabric does a great job of wicking away moisture, and odor. Comfortable, looks great, stays dry… perfect!”

Sarah Says: “This jersey is like wearing your favorite t-shirt, fitting perfectly without any itchy/flappy/zippy drama. But unlike your favorite tee, it’s super breathable and the mesh panels perform well in this crazy heat.  Style-wise, it strikes a great balance of having a technical fabric with great coverage in the back, while looking pretty sweet  when we’re walking around at an event. I wasn’t so sure about the coral color at first, but it’s unique and the fit is flattering. It has become one of my go-to jerseys I grab for a ride!”

Adventure Report

Let the Training Begin!


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As the Willamette Valley baked in the first heat wave of the year, I spent about 4 hours Saturday afternoon meandering from peak to peak throughout the Macdonald Forest. My wanderings had a specific purpose: to get me in good shape to ride 50 miles and climb 9,000 feet of the Fritter 50 race in Oakridge, this August.

Let me get something straight right away: I love fritters. Specifically apple fritters from Nutcakes. Those face-sized, sugary, doughy concoctions of perfection have just enough grease and lovely little apple chunks, leaving my hands with doughnut dust that usually ends up in my bike glove, having most likely eaten it on the way to some trail head.

My spirit doughnut - THE FRITTER
My spirit doughnut – THE FRITTER

So…..what better race to go for, and what better weekend to start a new training regimen?

Since I began mountain biking, I’ve ridden a handful of races for the experience, but nothing that made me question whether I could complete the course. Not that I don’t think I can complete the Fritter, but I’d like to at least finish by rolling, rather than hobbling in. And I want my face to be equal parts smile and grimace, if I can swing that.

This morning’s inaugural training ride started much later than I planned (I blame it on the cider the night before), and after loading up a new bag, I hit the Oak Creek trail head shortly before 11.

My hot new fanny pack. I've tried 4 packs this spring and this one doesn't hurt my back or bounce around, and it has a reservoir! A winner!
My hot new fanny pack. I’ve tried 4 packs this spring and this one doesn’t hurt my back or bounce around, and it has a reservoir! A winner!

As I pedaled past the initial crowd of hikers always found on Homestead, and up the virtually empty old South Road, I smiled at the thought of my specific purpose on the bike for the next couple of months. I had a focus to improve my endurance, and a motivation for those days ahead when I won’t be feeling as excited as I am now. Also, it doesn’t hurt to know I have five remaining days of the school year. Even with my odd jobs throughout the summer, gone will be the long days spent in the classroom, replaced by long sunny, hours in the saddle!

I climbed up to the “Wall” below McCulloch Peak. Surprisingly there wasn’t a gaggle of riders at the bench, which is what I expected on a sunny Saturday. Alone, I made my way down Tin Can Alley and Brown’s Nose for my first descent. Another goal I made this year was to better familiarize myself the trails, but as I got back to the road, I started wasting a bit of time and phone battery trying to find the way to Funnel Cake, a trail I’ve never actually ridden. So I decided to stick to what I know, and eventually made my way down the Plunge to Sulphur Springs.

Sign at the Extendo trail head - at least we now know that the logs won't be removed until late summer!
Sign at the Extendo trail head – at least we now know that the logs won’t be removed until late summer!

Sulphur Springs is my favorite place to ride on hot day – it just seems a bit cooler, and there’s always the sound of water that surrounds you. It’s too bad that logging has taken out Log Bridge, messing up a perfect loop, but today that didn’t matter as I was focused on making it back up to Dimple for the third leg of my ride.

The lovely Baker Creek Bridge
The lovely Baker Creek Bridge

Following a route of Rheannon’s, I rode down the road until I got to the lovely Baker Creek bridge, which leads back up to moderately challenging Alpha trail.

By this point I was hot and tired. I had lagged a bit earlier, waiting for the map to load on my tiny iPhone screen. Repeatedly pulling it out of my bag reminded me that I need to get a proper GPS or stop relying on technology and just ride. A wrong turn before Alpha took me to a confusing network of Betas and Gammas that leads back down the opposite way I was headed, so I turned around and could barely push my bike back up to the right trail.

Alpha alpha'd me this day.
Alpha alpha’d me this day.

Once I got onto Alpha I was tired enough to just stop in the middle of the trail. This was when I realized I wasn’t passing anyone on the trail because it was, indeed, an unpleasantly warm day.

When I finally arrived at the top of Dimple, I felt far more spent compared to my regular Quimple up Dan’s or Horse. I stopped long enough to drink the rest of my electrolytes, look out over my Corvallis Queendom, then hit Two Face and Hocus Pocus for a bit of fun before I arrived back at my truck at the Oak Creek gate.

My stats: 3, 734 feet; 16 miles. Not bad for my first training ride, but I need to get to 5,000 feet in a single ride pretty soon if I’m going to get the doughnut glory.

Afterward I felt pretty tired, but laughed at the thought that the next day’s ride was going to be an “easy” ride up to McCulloch. Just a few months ago that was my hardest ride, so I’m happy with how far I’ve come with endurance!

A simple Dimple shot.
A simple Dimple shot.
Adventure Report

Sunday Fun Day at Thrillium


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It’s Sunday. A day where most American’s go to church or sleep in and read the morning newspaper, go to their local breakfast spot and grab some eggs, bacon and toast with a steaming cup of coffee. For us it’s a bit different, our Sunday has become a ritual of waking up early, loading our gear and bikes, slamming down whatever breakfast we have at the house and cruising on the highway as the sun is rising to our favorite downhill spot in Yacolt, Washington.

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Having access to the Cold Creek Trail System is one of the many advantages of living in the great Pacific Northwest. There are a variety of trails for different types of riding. Cold creek is one of the trails, for a more enduro style rider. Cold creek features bermed switchbacks that link corner to corner, a rock garden, a few bridge crossing over the river and is speckled with roots, rocks and fun all the way down the trail. There is another trail in the Cold Creek system called Thrillium, this is one of my all time favorite trails. It’s a dynamic downhill specific trail. It is shuttle-able, fast, technical, steep, rocky, plenty of roots, and has lots jumps. It is the perfect training spot to gain confidence with tech and speed. It is full of laughs, smiles, stories of close calls and most of all it makes trips that you will never forget with your friends.

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Rob is an ex-pro downhill racer that has come out of a serious neck injury; this past trip to Thrillium was his second time on his new bike and he was sending it like he was never off a bike at all. Both Rye and I look up to him because of his positive attitude, his ability to always make you laugh and jeez this guy can shred.

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Rye grew up shredding the mountains of Santa Cruz, which shows in his natural ability and flowing style. I admire those traits! He sees the lines through a different lens and is always teaching me new techniques to rip through the really technical sections of the mountain, which makes him great training partner.

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Hi 5 Bikes teammate Gordo is so naturally gifted when it comes to riding bikes it amazes me. At the rate he is going I feel he will be at the World Cups in his later teenage years. This kid is flat out pinned all the time

This was the first run of Thrillium we have done this season that was dry. Normally until about the beginning of June it is still pretty moist and wet out at there. However, this May it has been so fast and tacky, it is some of the best conditions I have ever experienced on this trail. After riding in the rain back to back all winter, it is almost a learning curve to get back to riding tacky and fast rolling trails.

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No flats, minor crashes and all of us in great laughing spirits, we packed up our bikes and heading back home as the sun was going down. I wouldn’t trade the experience with my friends and our bikes for anything.

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Thank you to No Apologies, Hi-5 Bikes, Raceface, Ride100%, Royal Racing, The Gravity Cartel, Fox Suspension and 7protection.

And another big thank you to our awesome photographer Ruandy Albiseruz check him out on his instagram: @pnw_roo

Race Report

Race Recap: NW Cup #2 – Port Angeles, Washington


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By: Kerstin Holster May 15 – 17, 2015 BEEP BEEP BEEP!! My strikingly loud alarm clock went off at 4am from across the room. It was one of those moments where you jump out of bed so fast you don’t remember how you get to the other side of the room. Rye and I sleepily got up, chowed down some breakfast, slurped our coffee, hoisted the bikes on top of my Subaru wrx and sped away before the sun came up. Leaving Corvallis, Oregon behind for a 6-hour trek to Port Angeles, Washington all in hopes to be in that number one podium position two days from now. IMG_4346 We pulled into the parking lot of Dry Hill about 10am right as practice was starting for the Category 1 classes. We ate a quick bite of bananas & granola and up we went into the u-haul to the top of track. Butterflies and nerves in my stomach, all from excitement of how this new track was going to be! As I put my 100% goggles over my eyes I took a deep breath, grabbed my grips and started my decent. IMG_4359 The track was slick on Friday, lots of rocks and the berms didn’t seem to want to hold, and you really had to trust your tires. There was a few times that I almost lost control but I held it together with only a few really close calls. After 6 runs down the hill, I was loving the track. Steep, technical and it was a test to me as a rider. unnamed-2 Saturday was when I really realized how awesome the course was. I ended up taking 7 runs down the hill and really started attacking corners and dialing in my lines. It was very warm on the hill about 65 degrees’ I am so glad I had my Royal enduro jersey on since it was so light and breathable. By the end of practice I felt confident about all of my lines aside from one jump towards the middle of the track. IMG_4382We watched seeding and pro qualifiers after practice and wow it was incredible. I couldn’t believe how fast the men and women were going down this track. I tried picking up a few lines in spots I had problems from the pros and watched with awe & inspiration in my eyes. I cannot wait to encourage someone like they motivate me. IMG_4339 Sunday morning came around Andy, Justin, Wood, Rye and I sat around the table and ate some bacon, eggs and toast. We stretched and hustled around to get the rental house cleaned and packed before we left for the track. Let me tell you right now, Justin and Andy are some of the best cooks! I learned a lot from them this weekend of how important nutrition, stretching and sharpened focus could really help determine your results. IMG_4325 We got to Dry Hill in time to put in some practice laps; the course was absolutely in perfect condition. The morning dew had helped retain some moisture in the dirt, it was tacky and rolling very fast. I felt really good about my lines and after I came down the hill, I was ready to race. Waiting up at the starting line for the timer to go off, I breathed in deeply and exhaled, repeated this process three times and off I went. One phrase kept repeating through my head “smooth is fast… smooth is fast.. Smooth is fast.” I barely heard the crowd yelling, I had tunnel vision, my heart was pounding as I pushed my riding abilities. It didn’t feel like long and I was on the final stretch I threw my shifter into second to last gear and sprinted hard giving the bike every last bit of energy I had left. I ended up in 4th place, we had a blast this race round; it couldn’t have been more fun. Great people surrounded me, we had great food and the riding was incredible, I can’t wait for the next race! unnamed-1 My goals for training until the next race in Mt. Hood June 19-21, 2015 are to practice doing sharp corners that lead to jumps, carrying my speed and continuing to work on body positioning and form. I want to thank #Hi-5bikes, for all the support they have given me this season. Thank you to my sponsors #raceface, #ride100%, #royalracing, #thegravitycartel, #fox, and #7protection. And another big thank you to our awesome photographer Ruandy Albiseruz check him out on his website: http://www.ralbisurez.com/ or his instagram: @pnwroo , twitter: @ralbisurez , facebook: Ruandy Albiseruz

Race Report

2015 Mudslinger Breakdown


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NO Apologies! team members, Rheannon, myself (ZimZam), and Soso represented at this years Mudslinger. We had two podium finishes and 1 happy upgrade to the longer loop (Cat 2). The morning started early with volunteering at registration, followed by a quick change, a lightning speed warm up and a one mile group ride to the start line. And there is where this years Mudslinger began….we all started together in the same women’s group, you could feel the nervous energy of the first race of the season.  We were off with a 30 second countdown, Rheannon and I stayed together for the first couple of miles, it felt good to be racing again and to be riding in my old backyard. As we progressed uphill though I couldn’t keep her pace, and I slowly fell back.  I kept Rheannon in view for a bit and then the pink jersey became a small dot before it disappeared. My first goal was met, stay with her as long as I could, and then race my race, and as long as I could keep a decent pace I knew I would finish, and not finish last.

IMG_2641There we were, riding and jostling for position. Looking for the position you most likely will maintain during the race, you usually end up leapfrogging with people. This results in riding with a group familiar faces by the end of the race.   I settled in and was happy to keep picking people off. Races for me are funny, I scream going uphill and I am always caught by the slow climbers on the downhill, it seems to be a good equalizer.  The first major uphill was a virtual mudslide, and it had some walkers already in progress. I was never going to make it up and past 3 walkers, so I dismounted and fell into the uphill walk.  This is where I lost time, a lot of time. I knew though if I could get up the hill, back on my bike and put my feet to the pedals I could make up some of the lost time. All I could do was just keep pedaling, the course played to my strengths of climbing and singlestrack, so I focused on those and let the rest go. Most importantly I still felt really good and was happy to be riding, I wasn’t dying or wanting to throw my bike off a cliff. The only times I get really nervous in a race is if I don’t see any other riders for awhile, that happened more than twice but I eventually caught up with other riders. In the back of my head I was hoping one of those riders would be Rheannon, but no such luck. I did fall back with the group I had been leapfrogging, and we were near the entrance of the Panama Canal I got in front and took off, disappointingly it was the readers digest version of the Panama Canal, as soon as it started it was done. I was so looking forward to that section, its technically challenging, some great single track and just enough off camber to make it fun.  I knew we were getting close to the turn off to head of the road, and if I could conserve enough energy to get up the road quickly my race would be done.  Once we made the turn to the road I shifted into the large ring and took off. And yes I did use a few groups along the way for a pull, but it was up to me to stay in front of them.  And that I did, I finished by myself at 2hrs.  I was scanning for Rheannon, I knew she had finished and in the back of my head I did wonder how far off her time I had finished.  It ended up being 8 minutes, and a great motivator to know what things I need to work on to stay with her.  So 2 of No Apologies had finished, we waited anxiously for Soso.

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We were excited to hear how her race had gone, and if she felt like the long course was a good decision. We of course believe the longer you are on your bike, the better. But I am sure not everyone feels the same. She looked great as she crossed the line, and decidedly was glad she had done the long course. We were excited to have the first race with multiple No Apologies! in the books, we were officially a team. We finished, had some fun, and came out unscathed. All of that equal success in my book.  As we stuffed our faces with food we recounted our experiences and waited for results.

IMG_1675I was hoping for top 10, and not last place.   They have WebScorer, which gives live results, and as people cross the line the results are continually changing.   So there I was in the open women category looking at a 3rd place finish, I thought it was for surely a mistake, so we waited, everybody was in and they were updating and getting people into the correct categories. Strangely I was still 3rd, unbelievable I thought to myself. During all of this 3rd place uncertainty in my mind we checked Rheannon’s results, she was first in her age category for women.  It then started to sink in, we really are badass.  I was 3rd and she was 1st, and Soso made an upgrade to Cat 2, it couldn’t have been a better Sunday.

Missing 2/3rds of a podium
Missing 2/3rds of a podium
First Podium!
First Podium!
Race Report

Race Recap: UCI Pro GRT – NW Cup #1 April 24-26, 2015


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(photo by: http://ralbisurez.com)
(photo by: http://ralbisurez.com)

April 26 at Port Angeles, WA for the UCI Pro GRT NW Cup #1, I entered the competitive realm of Category 1 Women’s racers.

Photo by Eric Ashley
Photo by Eric Ashley

Friday was a breeze, it was a light fun atmosphere and the trails were spectacular! The Pro/Cat 1 course was tacky, fast, smooth and with the weather it called for an awesome day! I got a lot of practice in and felt really good about the course, it was a bit out of my comfort zone but that is why I changed classes to push my personal limits.

(photo by: http://ralbisurez.com)
(photo by: http://ralbisurez.com)

Saturday rolled around and after a long cold night of camping we managed to rally into the U-Haul and head up Dry Hill for practice.

 (photo by: http://ralbisurez.com)
(photo by: http://ralbisurez.com)

The moment I got into the thick of the trail I realized how tough race day would be. Little baby head sized rocks started creeping out of their dirt casings; holes were starting to develop in off camber turns and the waterfall. Oh the waterfall had started claiming victims with its gnarliness and I was one of them. That afternoon was full of spectators walking the course; I must have a very quiet bike and quick reactions because I missed a lot of the walkers by a hair.

Mylan and me checking out lines. (photo by: http://ralbisurez.com)
Mylan and me checking out lines. (photo by: http://ralbisurez.com)

I was on my descent down the waterfall section when a couple of younger course walkers dislodged a huge tree limb that within a second was in smack dab inline with my front tire. There was no jumping, swerving, there was only bracing for impact and praying that I would make it through.

Nope! I hit it dead on and went flying over my handlebars, the bike caught up with me and we rolled together down the hill. I landed in front of Bryn Atkinson; he very kindly helped me up and helped me gather my nerves, which turned a bad situation to a positive learning experiance! After that run I decided to do another to clear the trail another time before race day. Sunday, race day!

(photo by: http://ralbisurez.com)
(photo by: http://ralbisurez.com)

We get to the track early to get a parking spot; we warm up, stretch and crawl back into the dark U-Haul to get a practice run in. It was dewy and the trail was torn up! I put a fast run in, following the lines I had picked on Saturday. 10:20am rolled around and it was my time on the line. I was nervous, excited and felt a tension that I had not felt in any other racing class. I positioned myself at the starting line, waited for the beep beep beep boop, and off I went. I went as fast as I could while managing to stay in control but out of my comfort zone. There are so many turns, rocks and technical spots on this course that it is hard to remember every detail.

I squared off my corners, pumped everything that I could, and had to remind myself to breathe as I pushed my limits. I blasted through the top section and attacked the next dark forest section. As I rounded the corner for the waterfall section you can hear the crowd roaring! I could not condemn the heckling crowd more; they were massive and could not be completely ignored. GO GO GO!!! YEAHH!!! WOOHOO!! GET OFF YOUR BRAKES!! HUCK ITT!!! Passing this ginormous crowd was one of the highlights of my day.

(photo by: http://ralbisurez.com)
(photo by: http://ralbisurez.com)

I gave it my all sprinting to the very last moment. Unfortunately I did not make the hot seat, although my ego was bruised I came out with a very positive feeling about my move to Category 1. I made it down unscathed on one of the gnarliest courses I have ever done. I placed 13th out of 19 incredibly fast women from all over the region. Competitors from British Columbia, Washington, and California. Some of which placed mid pack Pro-women times, looking back I feel very positive about the start of the season. I now know what times and results I need to be producing to get to the next level. This is a brand new start for me and I cannot wait to attend the rest of the NW Cup racing series this season. I cannot thank Hi-5 Bikes enough for believing and supporting me this season. Thank you to ride100%, royal racing, 7 Protection, The Gravity Cartel, my awesome partner Rye and the amazing friends who have helped me to be where I am today.

Post Race Taco Time!(photo by: http://ralbisurez.com)
Post Race Taco Time!(photo by: http://ralbisurez.com)
Personal

Accepting Injury with Grace?


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I was hoping that this post would be an encouraging tale of how hard work pays off, about the excitement of taking my first podium, and about the decision to upgrade to Expert. Instead, it will be an introspective post about dealing with injury. As a group, cyclists are no strangers to injury. It is part of the sport. Hopefully it is a minor part, but eventually we all have at least a small brush with it.

Sling time!
Sling time!

After a fun packed day of trail building, I ventured out on a fun ride with my husband Jim and my teammate Soso. It was supposed to be a quick ride packed with some fun roots, a great view and some smooth steep descending. The route is one of my go-to routes when I want something short but engaging. Everything was going along great and I was discussing my goal of a weekly ride on the trail because it plays to my weaknesses but gives back with an extraordinary amount of fun. As we began a wonderfully steep root filled climb, I broke one of the top mountain bike rules: DON’T LOOK WHERE YOU DON’T WANT TO GO! I was passing by a small upturned tree/washout that someone had stuffed full of cut logs and I was pondering the reasoning behind it when suddenly I was in it. Oops.

The pit of doom
The pit of doom

It was one of those classic low speed falls, but the landing was so awkward. I knew right away what had happened. Jim and Soso asked if I was okay and I calmly responded, “I dislocated my shoulder.” There was no mistaking it. I couldn’t move it. I couldn’t put weight on it to get myself out of the pit. Jim held me upright as Soso carefully extracted my bike from under me. My training as a wilderness first responder only put one thing in my head: relocation was gonna hurt. Soso pulled out her handy wilderness first aid book and it told us about a magical technique for reduction. Below the scene of the fall was a log over a small creek. It was the perfect locations for the Stimson technique. I wandered down there and hung my arm over the edge. Without weight it went right back in. It was such a relief that I didn’t even think before lifting my arm up in celebration. Oops again. It went right back out. After an extra minute and some weight, it was back in for the second time. This time I carefully cradled the arm and started the hike out while Jim and Soso struggled with the extra bike. When we got to the road, I carefully propped my arm on my knee and rolled out on the bike. After a few phone calls, ice and ibuprofen, the realization of what happened started to sink in. I certainly would not be racing the Coast Hills Classic the following day, and my plans for upcoming months started shifting in my mind.

Perfect location for the Stimson technique
Perfect location for the Stimson technique

I am still waiting to get the full picture of my recovery. The x-ray showed that nothing was broken and that our reduction was successful. I am in a sling for the week and waiting for a more detailed exam once the swelling goes down. The next step will either be physical therapy or an MRI to see if anything was torn. But for now I wait.

A better kind of pit to fall into
A better kind of pit to fall into

I use cycling to keep me sane. I tend to think of it as a healthy addiction; but like any addiction, coming down is hell. My calendar was bursting with weekend plans and training rides. I was going to seek my revenge on the Cream Puff. My social life is integrated with cycling. Now what? I have enough work from my PhD program to fill the time, but what I need is something to balance that out. I need something equally as demanding to give me an outlet.

Fungi can be demanding
Fungi can be demanding

I am trying to find the grace to accept this injury. I am trying not to dwell on lost training, social rides or races. I am trying to accept this as I would accept any cycling challenge. I am trying to see this as nothing more than another technical feature, that with time, courage and the right approach I will master. After I master it I will be stronger, better and more confident to master the next challenge. So I am making my own skills clinic of how to accept injury. Please wish me the patience to see it though so I don’t get impatient and dislocate it again! Here’s to a full recovery and a quick return to the bike!

To recovery!
To recovery!
Race Report

Coast Hills Classic 2014


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Because the Coast Hills classic is upon us this coming weekend, I thought I write a little story about the race that started it all for me. I had been in Corvallis only about 9ish months, my first months riding were done alone on my cross bike, with Pandora blaring, and Strava.  I knew no one that rode.  My claim to knowing the Mac so well is that I rode most of those trails by myself, on my cross bike the wrong way and usually in the rain. So I continued on this way and figured eventually you always meet people that ride, and really you can’t be too picky.  You have to throw yourself out there and start meeting people and riding and see what happens.  So that is what I did, it was a women’s spring group ride in Blodgett.  I threw myself out there, met some great gals, and met Rheannon and SoSo.  And so my days of riding my crossbike the wrong way with Pandora blaring and Strava recording every inch of where I had been were in the rearview mirror. I had made riding friends, let the adventure riding begin. So from that day forward we rode, and we rode long, and to new places on mountain bikes the correct way on the trails, in the sun.  It was blissful, and I was so excited to have riding friends.  Racing season was just around the corner, I had honestly never thought of myself as a mountain bike racer.  I raced cyclocross, commuted a lot, and just rode a mountain bike for fun.   Its funny in life who you cross paths with that change your thoughts and ideas about things.  After a few months of riding with my new friends I started feeling like “yea I could race”.  Rheannon had her spring and summer mostly dialed with races, training schedules, nutrition and goals.  I was in awe, we started riding more elevation than I had thought humanly possible, riding often, and riding long miles.  And then she asked if I was going to to race the Coast Hills Classic, and I think I laughed.  I had already bypassed the Mudslinger on a count of it being too muddy, and I am not sure how thats much different than cyclocross but it is.  And now with the Coast Hills Classic a week away I had to make a decision, but my saving grace was that I could register day of so I didn’t have to commit until that day.  As the week drew to a close, we had talked about it and were both in.  Then the early morning text, Rheannon was out.  I was torn, it was going to be really easy to sleep in, oh and it was raining.  All good reasons to stay where I was, in bed.  But no, I got up got my things together loaded up and was off to the coast for the day.  It rained the whole way there, and it didn’t let up.  I thought who in there right mind gets up early on a Sunday, drives an hour to race in the rain, and pays money.  Well, I suppose I am now that person.  I got there and found where I needed to be when, parted with my money and I was officially registered.  So there I was warming up in the rain, I rolled to the startline when they called.  It was a sea of people and I was able to get close to the group I would start with.  I looked around and positioned myself at the back of the group, I figured that was the safest place.  I thought to myself I am way outta my league and I had no back up, it was just me.  These gals were serious and the talk was of times, and past races.  All I could think was please dont let me finish last, and please let me finish in one piece…and then we were off, and those girls were off like cruise misiles.  It was all I had to just to get up the road to get to the trailhead, then I thought I have 19 more miles to warm up why am I killing myself.  I settled in, and enjoyed the ride.  The trail was muddy, and it would suck you in.  There were grassy uphills I regained time, and forest roads led you into more muddy singletrack.  It was a 2 lap race to make 20 miles, so the advantage I had was I had already ridden the first lap so I knew what to expect.  Lap 2 was a little faster and way more fun.  The rain never let up and it was a mudfest, I finished smiling and my bike was well preserved in a thick layer of mud. Oh, and I finished 2nd to last, in one piece.  So I had achieved the goal I had set forth for myself. It turned out this race started it all, a year later I now have more goals, training schedules and a few races on the horizon for this season.

Personal

Failed Goal = Lifestyle change


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Part Three: The aftermath

For the following months I felt pretty frustrated and disappointed. I felt that I could have finished if I would have trained harder, pushed myself more, started earlier etc. I found endless alternate versions of reality where I was able to finish the race. That is when the big question started to appear: would I try again? The answer went back and forth. I knew that I need a break. Training kind of sucked. I wasn’t able to go on fun rides with my friends. I needed to put it behind me.

Time to relax and have fun!
Time to relax and have fun!

However, I am thankful that I didn’t leave everything behind. After a month off (mostly due to a terrible flu and moving), Jim and I started to get out on the bike again. After all the misery was cleansed from our psyche, we found that we were still riding close to training volume minus a few misery quests. It was like our bodies had been reset and we now operated at a higher level. I started my PhD that Fall and at first it was a challenge to get rides in. I was teaching, researching and taking classes. To counteract this, I sold my road bike and bought a cross bike so that I could make my commute into a longer ride. We invented the dimple commute, which changed the trek to the university from a flat 6 miles in town to 1,400 feet and about 14 miles on mostly trail and gravel road. It was amazing. It allowed me to get more riding in and experience more sunrises and sunsets. Both are good things.

Early Morning on Dimple
Early Morning on Dimple
Early Evening on McCullough
Early Evening on Skillings

The following year (last year) Jim and I both logged greater mileage and elevation than our year of training. It felt amazing. No training (see TOE image from part 1 as evidence that sometimes it is good to train for things), lots of fun and more riding. Training for the Puff had unknowingly caused a major lifestyle change. It took such a large goal to create such a dramatic change. Looking back, I feel a little crazy for choosing that goal, but I am better for it.

IMG_0517This spring I was addressed again with that nagging question and I answered yes. Actually to be honest, I momentarily went crazy and when I came to I was holding a free Cream Puff entry in my hand. What happens at ACM should stay at ACM, but it won’t. Instead it opened up a new year of training, misery and challenge. What a good year for it too!

This little raffle item sent me on a crazy eyed mission
This little raffle item sent me on a crazy eyed mission

I have more base miles, better routines, an amazing team and the best race support (since Jim says he will never try again he has made it his mission to make sure that I cross this finish line). I will even have Bridget out there with me again! So here it goes. I have officially started my homebrewed training plan. Wish me luck and if you feel like you can force me to actually do training stuff (what are intervals?) or just want to have some fun please come ride with me! Or if you feel up to it, join me out there in August!

Wanna see this in August?
Wanna see this in August?
Race Report

Failed Goal = Lifestyle change


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Part Two: Race Day

The day of: After a night of poor sleep, I awoke to my knee wound still aching from the crash, sleepy and nervous about how the day would unfold. I was anxious to get on my bike and start riding. I was bursting with anticipation as we lined up at the start line. After a short delay we started down the road for our neutral start.

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The office: where it all begins. Image stolen from Truss Love.

As the race officially began, we all filed into a short section of river trail. It was madness. Everyone was clustered together in a tight, impatient line, waiting to get up the hike-a-bike sections. If I pushed past someone, my heart rate skyrocketed. If I stayed behind someone, I got delayed even longer. I cursed the pile up and made another tally mark on my mental checklist of reasons why I dislike river trails. Eventually we started to spread out and we hit the gravel road. I was already frazzled, but the miles of climbing started to melt the frustration away. I was in the back of the group, but I started to catch people along the gravel road climb. I found my friend (and hopefully future No Apologies! member) Bridget. We leap frogged back and forth as we began the descent. Her single speeder legs destroyed me on the climbs as I would sit down and spin. Then I would catch her on the downhill.

Chasing Bridget
Chasing Bridget

I love the Cream Puff course (seriously, sign up for the 50 miler). It is on one of my all time favorite routes and I kept getting caught up in it. It was hard not to enjoy the wonderful views in the open meadows. I wanted to stop and hang out but I had to keep going. I felt good. Or at least I did until I rounded up to the last big climb of the first lap. Once we hit the newly built singletrack climb, the day started to catch up with me. But somehow, like magic, the last downhill portion of that lap erased it all, and I found myself at the lap point, ecstatic from the descent. I looked at my time and thought: I can do this! I hit the river trail again with all my might. That is when it all started to fall apart. As I mentioned earlier, I kind of hate river trails. I think they are beautiful, but I’ve never gotten used to the constant ups and downs. The rolling terrain really takes it out of me. I would much rather tuck my head down for a brutal climb than deal with the constant undulation of a river trail. I tried to ignore the pain and enjoy the sound of the water. I focused a little too much on that sound and I started to think it was calling to me. I imagined stopping there and taking a swim. It was a hot day and nothing sounded better than jumping in that cold water. But somehow I kept going. I hit the gravel road climb for the second time, put my head down and started spinning. I kept spotting Bridget in the distance, but she was pulling away from me. I became keenly aware of my declining speed. I looked at the time. It started to sink in that there was no possible way for me to make the final cut off. I could make the first cut off but probably not the second, and definitely not the final one. This realization really took the wind out of my sails. How far would I keep going? Would I wait for them to pull me off?

The end.
The end.

I watched as more and more people passed me going the wrong way on the road. They had officially pulled out of the race and were headed back to the staging area. It was hard to keep my spirits up as I watched my fellow racers give up. When I was nearing the next aid station, I found my Jim limping along the road. He looked worse than I felt. I knew then that we were done. It was time to call it. One of the sweeps started circling us like a vulture, waiting for our bodies to drop to the ground. We alternated between walking and riding to the next aid station. When we rolled in, our friends confirmed our decision to stop. Bridget had decided to keep pushing until she was pulled (at her next pass of this aid station). We asked about our other friends who were still in the fight (one of them eventually made it across the finish line). But we were done. We gave it everything and we didn’t make it. As we waited for the shuttle to take us back down, I didn’t even have the energy or mental capacity to feel bad yet. It was over.

So tired.
So tired.

Have you ever pulled out of a race? How did you feel about it later? Tell us about it! I will share more about my experience in part 3: the aftermath.